While the pristine white beaches of Palawan have attracted divers and luxurious travelers for many years, it was also identified by James Pearson and Caroline Ciavaldini as a new deep water soloing destination, given the numerous limestone karst cliffs on the Bacuit Archipelago.
During their exploration in 2014, at least seven areas and 30 DWS lines were established, with potential for a whole lot more. Routes range from 6a to 7c difficulty with heights of 8 up to 25 meters. For routes located over shallow water, trad climbing is also doable.
If pressed for time, a single-day DWS trip can be easily arranged by renting a pump boat for a day. But for the complete El Nido experience, an highly-recommended alternative is to go 3 days and 2 nights straight with Mother Nature. Camp on any of Bacuit’s white sand beaches at night and do island/cliff-hopping during the day, bringing only basic provision and climbing gear.
Photo Credits: Francisco Taranto Jr. of FotoVertical
Manila to El Nido
You can fly straight to El Nido via a chartered flight through Island Transvoyager Inc. ITI’s 50-seater ATR aircraft offers daily flights from Manila to El Nido. Travel time is approximately 55 minutes and a tickets costs about USD 350.
Flight reservations on ITI may be made through El Nido Resorts. From El Nido airport, guests will take an hour and 30 minutes van ride to Taytay Town Port. A 50-minute boat transfer to Apulit Island from Taytay Town Port follows. Guests are provided with light snacks along the trip.
Via Puerto Prinsesa
The cheaper, although longer option, is to book a Cebu Pacific or Philippine Airlines flight from Manila to Puerto Princesa and do land trip to El Nido. From the Puerto Prinsesa International Airport, take a taxi to the bus station for around PhP 100 – it’s only 30 minutes away. From the bus station, you can either take a bus for PhP 150-250 (no A/C or A/C) or rent a shuttle van (good for 8-10 persons) for PhP 4000. The bus takes 7-8 hours due to multiple stops, while a shuttle may take 6 hours non-stop.
Permits / Fees / Registration
There is a local tax permit of PhP 200 per head that has to be paid by every tourist if they are staying for more than a week. There is also a minimal Tour Guide Conservation Fee required for boat trips. Both can be paid at the Tourism Office along the beach. Just ask the boat men or resorts along the beach where the office is located.
Boat rental on the average costs PhP 4000 per day, while Kayak prices are from PhP 700 to 1000 per day.
Food & Shelter
There are stores and groceries around the church (there is only one church on El Nido town) that provides almost all basic necessities to load up on food, water and personal hygiene requirements. The store right across the church also carries medicines and first aid supplies.
For places to stay in, there are many options ranging from pension houses and backpackers’ inns to pricier resorts along the beach side. Prices range from PhP 400 to PhP 3000 per night.
Tips from the Locals